On Tuesday morning, Frank Stoffels, 64, woke up in distress.
The Douglas County local has been staying at Carson Tahoe Health for a week, recovering from heart conditions. Although he was supposed to be released that day, the doctor ordered him to stay for another 24 hours.
But there was an issue, Stoffels had never missed an election.
“This election is the most important we’ve had for all of the wrong reasons,” Stoffels said. “When my doctor told me I had to stay in today, I asked him, how am I going to vote?”
In fact, this was a concern for many of the patients who were staying in the hospital, as some were trying to leave to get to the polls.
“I registered to vote and I was stressing about it,” said patient Richard Torres, 46, of Carson City. “We have a right to vote and these barriers make it difficult.”
But the hospital’s Customer Experience Department, along with other employees, united to save the day. They obtained emergency absentee ballots from Carson, Douglas and Lyon counties and passed them out to patients to fill out, including Stoffels and Torres.
“So many of our patients were in distraught,” said Kitty McKay, Director of Customer Experience. “Our staff sensed the passion and outpour to vote in this election, and they had a strong sentiment for these patients.”
From there, the employees collected all ballots and split up into groups to deliver them to county clerk offices before polls closed at 7 p.m. Nursing units visited each room to ensure patients were registered to vote.
Manager of Customer Experience Department Natalie Arneson dropped off patient ballots in Douglas County at 5:15 p.m. She then drove to Reno to vote.
“We had a lot of patients that have never missed an election,” she said. “To be able to help them cast their vote today was awesome. It was great to get a response from the County Clerk office, and it made me appreciate our right and ability to vote in this country.”
“It’s such an honor to help make it happen,” said Public Relations Specialist Samantha Thompson. “It was difficult to do all in one day, but we did it.”
Torres said it was relief to have the hospital give him the opportunity to vote.
“I came from Peru, a third world country,” he said. “I’ve seen how the elections are done there. The government is so corrupted there and it made me feel better to be a part of a country like America. That’s why it was so important for me to vote.”
As for Stoffels, he can peacefully watch the results on his television in his hospital room knowing his votes were turned in, including the votes of his children.
“Two of my kids are voting for the first time today,” he said. “They are ages 35 and 39. I’m so happy I got the chance.”